Suzuki GT550 Smokin’ Gun
The bike (a Suzuki GT550 from 1974) was purchased from America by its current owner and we were asked to find some potential in it. He very much wanted to keep the soul of the bike but make subtle changes to transform it into a new-wave cafe racer. Oh, it had to be comfortable, too. A bizarre request – Café Racer, comfortable??? When we collected it we found a rolling frame with half an engine in it. The rest of the parts were stuffed into cardboard boxes and an old pillowcase!
We assembled the parts and got it running, deciding we could indeed make something of it. Apart from the tank, which arrived ready painted, we stripped the bike into its component parts. What could be salvaged was set aside and either refurbished or modified. Quite surprisingly, we used around 90% on the new build and that is always a good thing.
The engine was given a total rebuild so is effectively new. The original wheel rims were discarded and the salvaged hubs were vapour blasted, polished and laced onto new aluminium rims. Every bush, bearing, gasket and seal has been replaced to achieve, in effect, a new motorcycle.
Great lengths go into making the frame as clean and strong as possible. We blast off all the old paint (which allows us to check for rust or cracks), then carefully grind away the original ‘over’ welding and ‘spatter’, remove all unnecessary brackets, tabs and lugs before welding in new bracing to make the whole thing stiffer. The entire frame is then hand linished to ensure there are no imperfections before we hand it over for more blasting and a powder coat finish.
Being a 2-stroke motor – and wanting to ‘open up’ the look of the bike by making it more skeletal – we had to remove the original plastic oil tank and the oil is now held in the hump of the custom fabricated aluminium seat. The seat also houses a high-output lithium Iron battery and the majority of the bikes electrical system. The saddle itself is trimmed in finest automotive hide.
To improve the engines performance we fitted a stainless steel expansion chamber exhaust system and tuned the carburetors to suit. The bike now also benefits from the addition of custom modified electronic ignition.
The wiring loom is modified and made in-house and incorporates the latest LED lighting technology. The controls (handlebars, clutch, front and rear brake levers, gear shift etc) are all modified and located precisely to suit the rider. In much the same way a suit is made, we take the riders measurements to ensure that the bike fits them perfectly.
The suspension is custom specified and built for us by UK company Hagan Shocks (they build our wheels, too) to ensure that we optimise the bike’s handling.
Finally, and most importantly, the braking system is re-built and modified to perform at its absolute best. Coupled with new Avon tires, these points ensure that not only is the bike quick, it also handles well and, when necessary, it stops sharp.